NE1's Fast Track Training Course For Chefs Culiminates With Jobs And Apprenticeships For Recruits


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An innovative, fast track chef’s training course, run by NE1 Ltd in conjunction with Newcastle College and three of Newcastle’s leading restaurants, Babucho, 21 Hospitality Group and Hot Buddha Group, has reached its successful conclusion with five of the first batch of recruits walking into jobs, apprenticeships and further training for a future career in the restaurant industry.

NE1's Fast Track Training Cour

The first course came to an end after eight weeks and organisers are already looking to enrol the next batch of recruits for the second programme starting in June. The target number of recruits is 14, a ‘kitchen-full’ of candidates.

Two of the recruits, Diallo Mamadou and Aldair Medina have been employed in trainee roles at Babucho and will continue their formal chef’s training on an apprenticeship programme studying NVQ L2 Food Preparation and Cooking Qualification at Newcastle College.

Fat Buddha in Durham has employed another of the recruits, Liam Riley who will follow the same apprenticeship programme.

Two of the other fast track recruits Adam Henderson and Kaitlyn Milburn will continue their formal chefs training at Newcastle College on a higher level course starting in September. The remaining candidate, is already highly qualified to Level 3 standard and is being supported by NE1 and Newcastle College in his search for work.

The fast track course has been designed to tackle the impending skills shortage in the North East restaurant industry, providing recruits with an immediate snapshot of what life is like in the career and helping them secure apprenticeships and jobs in the city’s burgeoning restaurant industry.

Attracting and training new recruits, as well as recruiting highly skilled staff, is a growing problem and one that is likely to be exacerbated this year with the opening of another 26 new restaurants in Newcastle city centre alone.

To generate interest in a career as a professional chef and to provide a direct link into employment, NE1 teamed up with three of the city’s finest restaurants, the Hot Buddha Group, Babucho, 21 Group and Newcastle College’s Lifestyle Academy to create the eight week, fast-track training course.

The first course catered for six 16 – 24 years olds and has provided intensive on-the-job training in the kitchens of the three restaurants combined with two days at college for teaching and theory lessons. On successful completion of the course the trainees achieve their NVQ Level 1 qualification in Professional Cookery.

Aldair Medina, 20 learnt about the course through NE1’s Space 2 initiative for young people in Newcastle. He explained:

“I’m delighted to have got the trainee job at Babucho. I’ve really enjoyed the course and the training I’ve been given and know that I’m now on track to get the formal qualifications and experience that will allow me to work in catering and hospitality anywhere. The staff at Babucho have been really welcoming and helpful throughout the course and I’m looking forward to working with them in the restaurant.”

One of the recruits, Kaitlyn Milburn, 16 and the only woman on the course explained:

“I have always been interested in a career in catering since I was about 10 years old and used to cook with my nana. After leaving school I started a year-long course but it was mainly college based and it felt like being back at school. This course has been great because it is so ‘hands-on’ and I have immediately gained experience in a commercial kitchen and seen what life is really like in the industry. Having completed the course, I’m now looking forward to continuing to work towards more professional qualifications at College.”

Bob Senior, Owner and MD of Fat Buddha restaurant said:

“We pride ourselves on our staff and we invest heavily in attracting and retaining the best – but it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract young people into the industry. We wanted to run an on-the-job taster course that gives young people the chance to experience first hand what it is like to work in a fast-paced restaurant environment and hope that it will encourage them and others to consider a rewarding career in the industry.”

“We’ve been really impressed by the first batch of recruits on the course and were delighted to be able to offer Liam Riley a job in our Durham restaurant, he showed his determination to use this unique opportunity to his best advantage. We hope to see many more candidates coming through the training course in the coming months.”

Pam Careful, Project Coordinator at NE1 Ltd commented;

“We’re really pleased with the results of the first fast track course and we’re now gearing up to register our second batch of recruits. This course is shaped to give young people immediate commercial experience and a taste of what a job in the industry is really like. It gives candidates the soft skills needed for a job in this and other industries, skills that are difficult to learn in anything other than a commercial environment. These trainees have learnt time management, people skills and the need to knuckle down and get the job done. We’re delighted with the success rate and can’t wait to work with new recruits in June.”

Craig Cowan, Newcastle College course leader on the fast track training programme explained:

“This course is a fantastic opportunity for the students. There is a massive gap in the market for chefs, thankfully together with NE1 and the three restaurants involved, we have come up with an innovative way to tackle the problem. There are tremendous opportunities in some of the city’s top restaurants for people who want to learn, work and apply themselves. This course gives young people a valuable snapshot of the industry and a flavour of what a catering career is really like. If they are prepared to work and throw themselves into the course, they will reap the rewards in a hard but extremely satisfying career in the restaurant trade.”

Susan Davis, Operations Manager, Newcastle College Lifestyle Academy:

“We welcome any initiative that encourages young people to consider improving their training and education credentials especially in the restaurant and hospitality industry. As an education provider we pride ourselves on helping local employers address their skills shortages by providing a pipeline of well-trained job ready individuals. We are looking forward to working with the restaurants and NE1 on the fast-track training course in the future and we will continue to support the successful recruits with their on-going training needs when they secure jobs, or apprenticeships in the future.”

The second fast track training course will start in late June, for further information, including how to apply, contact Andy Brown, Newcastle College Hospitality Section Manager

Tel: 0191 200 4645



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